Government must set out vision for third level funding – Ó Ríordáin

02 November 2017

Labour Party Education spokesperson, Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, has called on the Government to set out their plans for the future funding of higher education.

This comes as the European Commission has stated that Ireland has the second highest level of third-level fees in Europe.

Senator Ó Ríordáin said:

“The Government has been sitting on the recommendations of the Cassells Report for months now. Three options were laid on the table, one of which is publicly funded higher education. I have been calling on Ministers Bruton and Mitchell O’Connor to get the ball rolling on this issue for months, but little action has been taken.

“Earlier this year, during Labour’s Seanad motion on third-level funding, we learned that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are in stalemate over whether a student loan scheme or publicly funded third level education is the way forward. Third level institutions and students will suffer from the lack of certainty surrounding the future of funding.

“Minister Mitchell O’Connor has repeatedly said that she would like to see the Education Committee make a decision on the Cassells Report. Both Fine Gael Ministers in the Department of Education have failed to categorically state that they believe in free education. They are now passing the buck on to the Education Committee because it is clear that they don’t want to make a decision on this important issue.

“We in the Labour Party have made no secret about the fact that we believe it is time for college fees to go. Since the publication of the Cassells Report, we have argued against student loans.

“We know that employers benefit from a well-educated workforce and they should contribute just a little more towards the National Training Fund. The state should contribute a good bit more.

“Budget 2018 illustrated a poverty of vision for the third-level sector. With Ireland emerging from a deep recession it is time for us to state what truly matters to us. Education is a great liberator and a vision of an entirely free third level education is still something the Labour Party holds dear.”

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